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Technical trades around the world go by different names. In Canada, we have machinists, millwrights, welders, pipe-fitters, plumbers, millworkers, carpenters, glaziers, bricklayers, etc. All of these trades, or "vocations" (hence the name, 'Vocational School'), are highly skilled, highly paid jobs. In China, they are all lumped under one name ... "workers". In Canada, if you were to use the label "worker", that would invoke an idea that the person had an unskilled, minimum wage ($10.00 - $15.00/hr (50 RMB - 75 RMB/hr)) job, such as a fast-food restaurant worker. A skilled tradesman, however, can earn between ($30.00 - $45.00/hr (150 RMB - 225 RMB/hr)). A typical workday is 8 hrs (you do the math).|
Let's look at the Machinist trade. What does a machinist have to know in order to do his job? Mathematics. A lot of it! Trigonometry and Geometry, mostly. Also Algebra. He/She also has to know Metallurgy and Metrology. A machinist also has to be able to work within very tight tolerances, often down to 0.0001 inch (0.00254 mm). To give you an idea of how small that is, the average human hair is only 0.003 inches (0.0762 mm) thick. He/She also has to know how temperature affects metals, plastics, wood, and other materials. A machinist has to know about cutting oils, lubricants, and other chemical compositions which can affect materials. \it is a very complex trade, with many skills involved. If I was to call a machinist a "worker", they would be very insulted, indeed. If it wasn't for the machining trades, much of what we have would never exist, for machinists make the molds that create things like plastic bottles, eyeglass cases, laptop parts, etc. Machinists make the machines which mass-produce chopsticks, matches, drinking straws, knives, forks, spoons, pots, and pans, etc. Car parts, airplane parts ... everything in our modern world that is manufactured by a machine ... was originally made by a machinist.
What the Chinese call a "worker", is actually a very skilled person, and should be a highly valued member of society.